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'Fund us properly', Norfolk County Council deputy leader demands of ministers



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A senior Norfolk County Council figure has accused ministers of failing to fund local authorities properly as plans to plug a multi-million pound finance gap were outlined.

Deputy leader Graham Plant said councils had been working “hand to mouth for the past four or five years” because of the lack of a long-term funding settlement from central government.

And he warned a cabinet meeting at County Hall on Monday that they had to act themselves, rather than rely on pledges for the years ahead.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (44788324)
Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (44788324)

He said: “A promise for the future is not how we can run the finances of this council. We have to know what’s coming up.”

A public consultation will take place on proposals to raise the authority’s share of council tax by just under three per cent from April.

But departmental heads are going to be asked to find an additional £5 million of savings on top of around £27 million which have already been identified or proposed.

Norfolk County Council deputy leader Graham Plant, right, called for ministers to step in after leader Andrew Proctor cast doubt on the impact of a planned National Insurance rise.
Norfolk County Council deputy leader Graham Plant, right, called for ministers to step in after leader Andrew Proctor cast doubt on the impact of a planned National Insurance rise.

And there is set to be a “full review of how the Council operates to deliver its future services and strategy”.

The council has repeatedly voiced its concerns about the funding of social care.

Last month, its leader, Andrew Proctor, warned that the Government’s current plans to raise National Insurance to provide extra funding to that sector and the NHS would not be enough for the coming winter.

And Mr Plant said the problems went back much further.

He said: “What we haven’t had, over many, many years now, is adult social care and children’s services being funded properly.

“When that doesn’t happen, what we have to do as a council is take money away from other services that people find important, roads, infrastructure, libraries, all the things that are nice to have and good to have and we need to have to make the economy turn around.

“We shouldn’t just always be looking towards the council tax for improvements. There’s two other places to look. That is at ourselves, to make sure we are an efficient county council that people respect, but also we need to look to central government to fund us properly.

“It’s alright 1.25 per cent going on National Insurance and then being given to the NHS with the promise of, in three years’ time, that comes to social care.

“Three years’ time, we have a different government, probably. We’ve got a general election coming up and we may never get that money.”

Finance portfolio holder Andrew Jamieson said an announcement on funding settlements is expected from central government in mid-December.

Consultations on the council’s budget proposals are set to begin in the coming weeks with the final plans being set in the new year.



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